What is it?
Time tracking, invoicing and expense-tracking software for small businesses.
How popular is it?
Freshbooks has served over 5 million customers since 2003.
What does it do well?
Freshbooks has excellent invoicing with many payment processing options. It also has very strong time tracking and expense/revenue tracking, which you can export to Quickbooks.
What does it not do well?
Despite the name, it’s not “true” accounting software. Freshbooks is all about invoicing, so if you are a large business that needs accrual based accounting you will need to use another system like Quickbooks.
Who does it work well for?
Self employed workers and small teams who want more advanced time tracking and invoicing software. Teams with complicated projects who need to divide up tasks.
Who does it not work well for?
Small businesses who just need basic invoicing tools. (Checkout Paypal)
Send invoice via physical mail?
Does it support multicurrency?
Cost Compared to Competitors?
low, mid-range, high
Cloud or Hosted?
Freshbooks pricing is divided into 3 different plans:
- The “Seedling” edition ($20/month) includes all the basic features for 1 user and invoicing for up to 25 clients.
- The “Evergreen” edition ($30/month) lets you invoice an unlimited number of clients. You can also add 1 additional user to your account and access team timesheets and team expense reporting.
- The “Mighty Oak” edition ($40/month) is the same as the “Evergreen” edition but lets you have 5 additional users on your account.
Ease of use
- Setup – Easy. Freshbooks does a great job introducing you to the software. Upon logging in for the first time, you have the option of calling support, signing up for a webinar, watching a welcome video, or going through guided steps of creating clients, projects, invoices or connect your bank.
- End User – Moderate. Freshbooks is very easy to use. Its simple and uncluttered without any bugs or button response issues that I could find.
- Support – Easy. Freshbooks has top notch phone and email support, which is praised by users. There’s also a support center with user guides, tutorial videos and searchable FAQs.
Features It Has
Features It Does Not Have
Customize Invoice Formatting
Save List of Products/Services
Send Invoice via Snail Mail
Integrations It Has
Integrations It Does Not Have
(Google Drive, Dropbox, Box)
(Shopify, zen cart)
You can check out the full list here.
How To Create Invoices
Invoices are easy to make. You can pre-save your items and services, or you can just write them on-the-fly. If you use time tracking, you can select a task, which will automatically add the hours to your invoice. Another small thing I liked was how products and services were separated on the invoice. It’s a simple feature, but it makes things more organized and potentially easier for the client to read.
To send the invoice, you can save it as a PDF, send it via Email or send it to a physical address by snail mail. At a cost of $2.29, Freshbooks will print the invoice for you, place it in an envelope (along with a return envelope) and mail it to your client’s address. (Read more here)
With Freshbooks, you can apply sales tax separately to each item on the invoice. This is important if some of your items are taxable but others are not (i.e. your products but not your services). There’s also up to 2 tax fields for each item, which can account for excise tax or other unique circumstances.
All tax rates need to be entered manually. I did not find any feature or integration that automatically imports tax rates based on the customer’s location.
As with most invoicing software, Freshbooks lets you include a link for clients to pay via credit card directly on the invoice. Freshbooks has native payment processing that costs 2.9 – 3.5% of the payment amount + 30 cents. You can also use external services such as Paypal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Braintree or 2Checkout. Being native to platform, however, Freshbooks Payment has some advantages: Transaction fees will be automatically imported as expenses and you can auto-bill clients at no extra charge. (Read more here)
Setting up payment processing varies depending on the provider, although they’re all fairly simple. Under “Settings” > “Activate Credit Cards” you’ll find all the possible payment services. Click to activate one and enter in the necessary details (such as your Paypal or Stripe account info).
You can set up recurring invoices to be sent to clients weekly, monthly, annually or more (see the options below). You can choose the start date and select how many times to repeat the invoice before stopping. There’s also an auto-bill option. If you have permission to charge your client’s credit card automatically, you can set up Freshbooks to do so. (Read more here)
Freshbooks includes time tracking as a native feature. You can create projects with a set of tasks and log hours for each task. You can add multiple staff members to your account so they can log in and enter time. Staff members can enter hours manually or run a handy timer, which opens in a separate window. (Note, each staff member will count as an additional user)
There’s several different billing methods you can choose from:
- Set a single hourly rate for the whole project
- Set an hourly rate for each task
- Apply a rate for each staff member
When you later go to bill the client, these rates, along with notes you save for each task, will appear on the invoice.
Custom Invoice Formatting
If there’s one weakness to Freshbooks its the limited customization options. You can upload a custom logo and change the color, but you cannot change the formatting/placement of objects, or field titles on the invoice.
Estimates look identical to invoices: You have the option to enter both products and services and apply taxes individually. The only difference is you can’t have Freshbooks automatically mail it to a physical address (you can print out and mail yourself however) and, of course, there’s no payment option.
When clients receive the estimate in their inbox there will be a button to “Accept” it. (pictured below) Clicking “Accept” will send you a notification via email and list the estimate as “accepted” on Freshbooks.
Freshbooks includes some basic accounting tools, such as revenue and expense-tracking. You can log expenses manually, or link a bank account to import and categorize debits to your account.
While you can’t use Freshbooks for formal accrual accounting, most small business do not need this anyway. If you just need to track your cashflow, Freshbooks can do the job. Even if you do need professional accounting, however, you can export your data as a Quickbooks file (.iif) or a .csv.
Freshbooks has loads of 3rd party integrations, including CRMs, eCommerce, POS systems, payroll, payment processing, time tracking and more. For example, you can synchronize contacts between Mailchimp or your CRM software and Freshbooks. With a Shopify integration, you can automatically import sales in real time. An integration with Zendesk lets users track time they spend on support tasks using a Freshbooks widget.
Freshbooks has over 20 standard reports including profit and loss, expense reports, and other invoice, client and time tracking-related reports. You can set the date range and adjust a few other factors (where applicable) but that’s all in the way of customization. You cannot build reports from scratch.
Freshbooks has a solid mobile app for iOS and Android. You can create and send invoices/estimates, receive payment, record expenses, scan receipts, create contacts, view reports and track time. Both the iOS and Android versions have high user ratings.
No, 8am to 8pm EST, Monday to Friday.
US Based or Not?
Phone, Email, Live Chat?
Freshbooks has free phone and email support. Users spoke very highly of the support staff, and I found the same based on my own experience (I was connected with customer support within 5 seconds of making my call.) Freshbooks also has a support center with user guides, tutorial videos and searchable FAQs.
The Bottom Line
Although Freshbooks calls itself accounting software, it most closely compares to Harvest, another time tracking and invoicing platform. In a head to head battle, Freshbooks is the clear winner. It not only comes out a little cheaper ($40 vs. $49 for 5 users), but it has many more advanced tools, like the ability to link a bank account to track expenses, auto-bill clients, send invoices to a physical mailing address and apply sales tax to individual items on an invoice. Freshbooks also has a lot more integrations and several more payment processing options than Harvest.